January 03, 2019
Clinical research is an important tool for drug discovery, personalized medicine, and patient-centered health care. The workflow in a clinical laboratory is tedious, tasked with a myriad of responsibilities and safety checks. A typical workflow initiates with the ordering of tests and specimen collection followed by proper labeling, storage and testing of the patient specimen. Finally, the results are reviewed by the clinical lab-in-charge and the physician. The entire workflow must be executed in a way to ensure the best patient care, safety, and accuracy of the clinical test data. Meticulous management is required throughout the clinical laboratory workflow including the process of specimen collection, storage, labeling, payments, sending an invoice, and reporting of the clinical results.
Clinical laboratories are a primary source of healthcare data. With the growing complexities in the clinical industry, there is a constant urge for striking a balance between a range of competing operational and financial priorities. With the rising bio-specimen volumes, these laboratories experience a shortage of skilled technicians and are burdened with increasing cost pressures. The shrinking technologist labor pool demands the training of new human resource, which further adds to the overall operational cost of the laboratory. Meeting the increasingly rigorous regulatory requirements place additional demands of both time and expertise. Data inaccessibility further aggravates the problem faced by clinical laboratories by hindering their understanding of the full scope of their resource needs. Consequently, the generation of accurate, reliable and timely results gets compromised.
In order to improve the efficiency of clinical laboratories, it is necessary to monitor critical factors including budgets, customer satisfaction and the ability to deliver quality services. Proper workflow analysis should be applied, specifically in terms of the quality of clinical research, decision-making capability, and the management of patient data. The clinical laboratories need to visualize their processes and operations precisely to identify the bottlenecks, drill down to find the underlying root cause, and start formulating solutions. Here are the five steps that help improve the clinical laboratory workflows by increasing the flexibility, speed, intelligence, and ease of operations in the laboratory:
In today's scenario of healthcare integration, where the clinical laboratories are under constant pressure to enhance efficiency and reduce costs while improving patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes, it becomes necessary to identify the bottlenecks and data silos in the laboratory workflow and work coherently in the direction of improving it. Additionally, it is important that the available internal resources be utilized in the best possible manner by allowing them to focus on more important tasks. All these objectives can be seamlessly achieved by switching to a LIMS that facilitates efficient communication, addresses workflow challenges, improves economic returns, and provides the metrics to demonstrate performance.